UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Teaching subjects : reading the phantasies and interruptions of becoming Janzen, Melanie Dianne


Over the course of six months, a small group of teachers engaged in literary response groups to consider understandings of teacher identity and its relationship to curriculum as provoked by three novels. The theoretical underpinnings of this project have been heavily influenced and guided by the poststructural theoretical work of Judith Butler and Michel Foucault; the critical education theorizing of Deborah Britzman, Bronwyn Davies, Elizabeth Ellsworth; and the methodological messing of Patti Lather and Elizabeth St. Pierre. The project engages in the theorizing of being and becoming teacher and considers the complexities that constitute teacher identity and the interplay of teacher identity with curriculum. The specific questions of this inquiry include: In what ways do teachers understand the identity of “teacher” and what discourses are at work to construct not only the teacher, but the teacher’s understanding of teacher identity? Are there moments or discourses that interrupt the norms that influence teacher identity? What occurs within moments of tension and difficulty that might contribute to understanding teacher becoming, teacher relationship with curriculum, and teacher responsibility in education? The analysis engages in a consideration of the pressures of the discursive forces of subjection that play upon the subject, theorizing a phantasy of teacher identity. The phantasy of identity, an inner discourse of being, is helpful in understanding the psychical influences of the normative discourses on the subject and accounts for, in part, the desires, memories, and repressions of the teaching subject. The phantasy of identity, acts as a transitional object, a third space in which the desire of the phantasy becomes conscious, accounting for the excess of desire within the subjective forces. Moments of interruptions, in which teachers question their understandings of teacher identity, are critical places in the theorizing of teacher becoming. These moments are theorized as aporias, irreconcilable tensions, that are the brief opportunities in which the subject is offered a momentary glimpse in which to consider the resonances of the phantasy of identity, and the responsibility to the other.

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